Jan. 13, 2010
MONCTON (CNB) - Seniors and their families are looking for ways to help the elderly continue to enjoy community involvement and quality of life.
"Seniors want to be involved in their communities, enjoy meaningful activities and spend time with others," said Minister of State for Seniors Brian Kenny. "Day activity centres are the way of the future for seniors in this regard."
Day activity centres help seniors be at home, with their families and in their communities, by providing daytime accommodations and activities, while caregivers attend work, personal appointments or do errands.
Seniors attending day activity programs enjoy a wide range of activities as well as regular healthy snacks or meals. Fifteen day activity centres operate in the province, run by community non-profit organizations. The centres set their own rates (about $25 to $45 per day), and the provincial government subsidizes the service by covering a portion of the cost per seat.
At the Spencer Day Activity Centre in Moncton, eight seniors take part in the program. They arrive each morning to participate in exercise class, chapel service, tea time, group reading, musical entertainment, singing, reminiscing, crafts and cooking, games and even Internet computer access.
Special events involve birthday celebrations, pet visits, intergenerational visits, and group outings. Seniors enrolled in the day program also have access to on-site services offered by the nursing home's staff dietician, hairdresser or the foot care nurse from the Victoria Order of Nurses.
"We take a holistic approach to our program so that the social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and physical needs of our clients are met," said Mary Biden Bourgeois, recreation therapist. "The seniors who come to us are re-invigorated by a hearty meal, new friends, conversation, and the fun and enjoyment they get from being a part of the program.
"Families and caregivers welcome the support we provide. It gives them peace of mind knowing that their senior is well cared for and enjoying their day. Their senior goes home with a big smile and a renewed interest in life."
Biden-Bourgeois said day activity centres help to alleviate pressure on the health-care and the long-term-care system by reducing hospital visits and the demand for nursing home beds. It is also an affordable alternative to full-time home care. Staff at the centre see their clients every day, know their strengths and abilities, and work with them individually as well as in a group setting.
"I was stuck in my house seven days a week before coming here," said Claire Brace, a client at Spencer Day Activity Centre.
"My husband loves to come and does much better when he has been out to the program," said Joanne Ferris. "It has improved his quality of life."
Costs for transportation to and from day activity centres are usually the responsibility of the senior or the primary care provider. The provincial government may provide financial assistance if transportation costs are too much for a given client.
"Within the next year, community transportation will begin to be developed in all parts of the province as part of the poverty reduction initiative," Kenny said. "This service will be designed and established by communities themselves. Over time, the service should help boost the number of clientele for day activity centres in New Brunswick. Transportation is an issue for many seniors who would love to take part in day activity programs but need help getting there."
Regional offices of the Department of Social Development are being encouraged to promote day activity programs to clients seeking services or assessment through the province's long-term care program.
"Day activity centres are a real asset for seniors and communities as a whole," Kenny said. "We would like to see them used to their full benefit."
Day activity centres for seniors are located in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton and Miramichi regions and on the Acadian Peninsula. More are expected to open in Bathurst, Edmundston and Campbellton. Most day activity centres operate full or half-day programs. Hours of operation vary depending on the centre.
For more information on day activity centres, contact the nearest regional office of the Department of Social Development.
MEDIA CONTACT: Judy Cole, communications, Senior and Healthy Aging Secretariat, 506-444-3522.